Turku-Gdańsk by car

From Lair of Sorrow

I consider both Turku and Gdańsk to be my home towns. For most people the best way of travelling between them is by plane, and for a reason. Wizz Air, a low-cost airline, operates few times a week between the two cities, with a flight time of a bit above one hour. But what if you want to take a car?

No escape from the sea

Let's start by stating the obvious - there is no escape from the sea. Unless the area around St. Petersburg becomes part of the Schengen Area or a visa-free region (neither of which, at the time of writing in 2023, looks likely), the Baltic Sea needs to be crossed at least once. There are a few options for doing it, each affecting the available routes.

Finnlines used to offer a direct ferry between Helsinki and Gdynia, but it was cancelled in the 2010s. Side note: Finnlines did everything they could to make the connection as horrendous to use as possible. Upon opening the travel time was 19 hours on a 400+ passenger vessel and tickets (both ways, with car and cabin included) in the range of 550€ both ways. The time was increased in later years to 21, 26 and finally 29 hours with the boat getting smaller over time, ending up with a ship for 120+ people. The cost grew to insane 1000€ both ways, making the trip totally not worth the price.

There are rumours about a possible connection from Turku to Gdynia, but as of 2023 they are just rumours.

Via Baltica

The E67 road is a trans-European corridor that links Helsinki, the Baltic states central Poland and Czechia. It is the most straightforward connection between Finland and Poland. The distance between Gdańsk and Turku is about 1200 km and, with some good luck, can be done in one go - although I personally recommend taking an overnight stop on the way.

Turku - Helsinki

The highway number 1 links the current capital of Finland with the former one. The ride takes about two hours and a bit and the road quality is good. The road signs are clear and it is relatively easy to reach the harbour in Helsinki, although some new development is underway in the area and there are (clearly marked) detours.

Helsinki - Tallinn

There are a few options for crossing the sea here. I would recommend using Tallink-Silja, as they offer a 2h30m ride several times a day (every 2-3 hours from early morning to late evening). Viking Line is the major competitor on the route and it offers faster rides (2 hours), but less frequently.

Both ferry companies offer overnight stay on the boat and disembarkation in the morning. Viking Line does so for the route to Tallinn, and Tallink-Silja for the route to Helsinki.

As far as I know there are no other ways of crossing the sea here. There used to be:

  • a connection by DFDS Seaways from Hanko to Paldiski;
  • a night connection from Kotka to Estonia very, very long time ago.

Getting in and out of Tallinn

The harbour is located in the centre of the city and there are two ways of reaching it. One is to take the road number 4 (which is the E67) through the city, the other is to follow new signs to the outer ring of Tallinn - the road number 11. I find the latter option a bit more appealing, as the ride through the city can get a bit packed during the rush hours.


to Poland
Parnu, 4 / E67
to Finland
Helsingi, 4 / E67 (through the city)
Helsingi, 11, 2 (through the ring road)

Tallinn - Parnu

The trip takes about 2 hours. The road is in a good condition and for a short while after leaving Tallinn it is a 2+2 road (two lanes in each direction, separated). Where the road number 9 branches off, Via Baltica becomes a regular two-lane road, with one lane in each direction. It has been resurfaced in the 2020s, is wide and straight enough to comfortably overtake other cars, and the speed limit in the summer is increased to 100 km/h.


The city of Parnu has a ring-road with a bunch of petrol stations near the major crossing towards Tallinn. They are located on both sides of the road and offer coffee and snacks in addition to regular things offered at a station. Note that Estonia does not offer B7 and B10 diesel, only B0.


to Poland
Ikla, Riia / Riga, E67
to Finland
Tallinn, E67

Parnu - Estonia/Latvia border

From Parnu the road continues to be a one-lane-per-direction road (the part to Uulu - some 20 km - is being upgraded as of 2023). It avoids most of the human settlements all the way to the border.

Estonia/Latvia border - Baltezers

In Latvia the road is renamed to A1 and it no longers avoid towns and villages. Salacgrīva is one of them and it features a bridge over Salaca. The bridge is a terrible shape, with light signals allowing the passage of cars in one direction only. Needless to say, the traffic can get really bad at times and the waiting times can easily eat half an hour or more.

The road continues to Baltezers, which is on the outskirts of Riga. Luckily, E67 is routed to avoid the capital itself.

Baltezers - Ķekava - the outer ring of Riga

The outer ring of Riga is... interesting. The road changes numbers a few times, becoming (north to south) A4, A6, A5 and finally A7. The E67 marking, luckily, stays consistent. Another curiosity are the traffic lights where E67 crosses E77, E22 and a few other roads. Interestingly, some other roads are connected with huge roundabouts. This is definitely the most demanding part of the entire route outside Poland.

Towards the southern end of the ring, near Salaspils, the road goes on a dam on Daugava - a really impressive sight.


to Poland
Panevezys, Kaunas, E67
to Finland
Tallinn, E67

Ķekava - Latvian/Lithuanian border

After leaving the surroundings of Riga the road is marked as A7 and continues south to Lithuania. Iecava and Bauska are two cities the road cuts through, both offering shops and petrol stations. In Bauska the road has a roundabaout next to a really huge supermarket with excellent pastries. And a wide selection of cheap alcohol, including the famous Black Balsam ;)

As Bauska is a relatively big town for Latvian standards, it offers a few hotels. The city is located about half-way between Gdańsk and Turku and can be reached from Gdańsk in one day. When going in the opposite direction - to Gdańsk - it is better to continue driving to Lithuania and stop there.

Latvian/Lithuanian border - Panevėžys

In Lithuania the road number is A10 until Panevėžys, a large city an hour drive from the border. If you are travelling to Poland, this city is probably the best place to sleep - it has a number of good hotels. The road A10 goes through the city centre, passing by a few restaurants and shopping centres on the way, where it changes its number to A2.

Around Panevėžys

If you do not intend to stay in the city (or do shopping there), you should take the ring road, A17, to avoid the traffic and really poor road quality.


to Poland
Kaunas, A17, A8, E67
to Finland
Riga, Tallinn, A17, A10, E67

Panevėžys - Kaunas

The road A8 joins with A1/E85 near Kaunas, but until it does that, it is a nightmare. The surface is really bad and there are really long distances where no overtaking is allowed. This means that you often get stuck behind a heavy vehicle for a long time - which is really, really frustrating.

Around Kaunas

Kaunas is a big city, but luckily E67 avoids it. It does not mean that there is no traffic - on the contrary. There is only one change of roads - from A1 to A5 - and it is quite demanding on the way to Finland, as the crossing is massive. On the plus side, the roads in the region are all 2+2.


to Poland
Marijampolė, Warszawa, A5, E67
to Finland
Klaipeda, A1, E85
Panevėžys, Riga, A8, E67

Kaunas - Lithuanian/Polish border

The road A5 follows to the border with Poland. It is being upgraded to 2+2, with really long parts already in that shape, especially towards Kaunas.

The crossing in Marijampolė is a bit confusing on the way to Poland, so keep an eye on the road markings.


to Poland
Warszawa, A5, E67
to Finland
Kaunas, A5, E67

Lithuanian-Polish border - Ełk

Back in the day one would drive on road number 8 through Suwałki, which was an absolute horror. Narrow, curvy road filled with lorries, buses and hundreds of other cars. But now things are different. Road S61, a 2+2 high-speed road, starts immediately at the border, by-passes Suwałki and continues almost all the way to Ełk, where one is expected to join road number 16. This is the point where you leave E67, as it continues towards Warsaw and Prague.

Ełk features a few petrol stations on the entrance and exit to its ring road. I recommend a stop there - either as a resting point (on the way to Finland) or a preparation point (on the way to Gdańsk).


to Gdańsk
Warszawa, S61
Olsztyn, 16
to Finland
Kowno / Kaunas, S61, E67

Ełk - Mrągowo

The road number 16, despite being labelled as a major national road, does not fit the criteria to be one. It is very narrow at times, the curves are massive and the locals drive like crazy. In particular, the part between Orzysz and Mikołajki is famous for its rail bridge that appears out of a sudden - it has a maximum height limit of 3.6 metres and can fit only one car at a time.

But at least the views are spectacular, as the road goes through the heart of the Polish lakeland. Expect travelling through a lot of villages, as there is simply no other way to route a road.

Mrągowo - Olsztyn

Closer to Olsztyn the quality of the road slightly improves - it is a bit wider, at times becoming a 2+2 road. Olsztyn itself got a ring road and now it is no longer required to go through the city.

Olsztyn - Ostróda

The ring road offers two exit points towards Gdańsk - S51 towards Olsztynek and S16 towards Ostróda. I recommend S51 - while it is a bit longer distance, the road is 2+2 all the way from Olsztyn to Gdańsk. S16 returns to being 16 quickly and it is a miserable experience to drive. Either way, you will encounter S7 to Gdańsk at some point.


to Gdańsk
Olsztynek, Warszawa, S51
Ostróda, Gdańsk, S7
to Finland
Olsztyn, Ełk, Suwałki, S16

Ostróda - Gdańsk

A 2+2 road with plenty of petrol stations on the way. This road is new and it is really nice to drive. In Gdańsk it continues to S6 towards Gdynia and Szczecin.

By boat through Stockholm

This option requires two ferries and thus takes two nights (or two full days if you opt for day cruises). There are some alternatives for each part of the journey.

Note that despite high fuel prices the costs of carrying a car on two overnight ferries is still high, usually 3 times more per boat than the quick shuttle between Tallinn and Helsinki.

Turku/Naantali - Stockholm/Kapellskär

The ferries between the Turku and Stockholm regions are among the biggest in the world, each easily hosting more than 2 thousand people and hundreds of vehicles. The travel time is around 11 hours and there are three major operators:

Viking Line
Turku - Stockholm
Turku - Kapellskär
Naantali - Kapellskär

All ferries stop in the Åland Islands for tax purposes. The Islands are an autonomous region governed by Finland and while they are a part of the EU, they do not belong to the common tax area. Thus, the ships can offer some true tax-free prices in their shops, especially on alcohol.

All ferries offer daily and nightly crossings. For overnight crossings a cabin is required.

While Viking Line arrives to the centre of Stockholm, other companies go to Kapellskär. That is a small town some way north of Stockholm, with not that good road connection to the capital.

Stockholm - Gdańsk

Polferries operates on the route from Nynäshamn, which is 80 km to the south of Stockholm, to Gdańsk. There are only night crossings (cabin not required), with travel time of 18 hours. The timetable is constructed such that it is impossible to take a daily trip from Turku and catch the boat to Gdańsk. This means a day of sightseeing Stockholm is required, as the waiting time is about 10 hours.

Regardless of that, I wholeheartedly discourage anyone from using Polferries. The level of service is really poor and often I felt like I am a problem for the operator, rather than their client. Which is understandable, as the company makes their profit out of cargo cars, not passengers. Luckily, there is an alternative.

(However, this might be the only route for a person who does not have a car and does not want to travel by plane. Nynäshamn has a good rail link to Stockholm, which makes it easy to transfer between ferries.)

Karlskrona - Gdynia

Stena Line has night crossings (cabins required) that take about 10 hours. The ferries on the route are large enough to have some food and some shops on them.

The evening departure is late enough to catch it after leaving the ferry in the morning in Stockholm, and there are about 450 km to drive on relatively good roads. The route passes through a few towns and cities, offering plenty of opportunities for some food or sightseeing.